Corporate Intelligence Guru George Friedman’s Latest Book Predicts Turkish Superpower
WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—To personify the tone of George Friedman’s newest book of speculative geopolitics, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (Doubleday, 2009), I shall quote F.D.R. when he allegedly said of Nicaraguan despot and U.S. proxy Anastasio Somoza García: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
Likewise, I will say of Friedman that while I’d probably disagree with his personal social views if seated beside him at a dinner party, there was little in his book’s research or analysis that I—nor, I’m assuming, any charter member of the ANCA—would disagree with that staunchly.
Friedman is the chief executive of STRATFOR, the leading private global intelligence firm he founded in 1996. The son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors and raised in New York City, he spent almost 20 years in academia prior to joining the private sector, teaching political science at Dickinson College. During that time, he regularly briefed senior commanders in the armed services on security and national defense matters, as well as those in the Office of Net Assessments, the SHAPE Technical Center, the U.S. Army War College, the National Defense University and the RAND Corporation.
For all intents and purposes, I have honed my review to focus on Friedman’s predictions for Armenia, Turkey, and the Caucasus, although his general outline for a realistic 21st-century timeline is as ruthless and American-interest driven—never to be confused with the goals of true American values—as any State Department report I’ve ever perused.
Keenly, of all U.S. foreign policy decisions, Friedman writes with veritas that the U.S. “has no key interest in winning a war outright. As with Vietnam or Korea, the purpose of these conflicts is simply to block a power or destabilize the region, not to impose order. In due course, even outright American defeat is acceptable. However, the principle of using minimum force, when absolutely necessary, to maintain the Eurasian balance of power is—and will remain—the driving force of U.S. foreign policy throughout the 21st century. There will be numerous Kosovos and Iraqs in unanticipated places at unexpected times… But since the primary goal will more likely be simply to block or destabilize Serbia or al Qaeda, the interventions will be quite rational. They will never appear to really yield anything nearing a ‘solution,’ and will always be done with insufficient force to be decisive.”
In short, Friedman predicts that following the August 2008 war in Georgia, conflicts in the Caucasus will remain relatively stable until roughly 2020, at which point “Americans will see Russian domination of Georgia as undermining their position in the region. The Turks will see this as energizing the Armenians and returning the Russian army in force to their borders. The Russians will become more convinced of the need to act because of this resistance. A duel in the Caucasus will result… But it will be Europe [namely the Polish border and the Baltic states], not the Caucasus that will matter.”
He continues of this proposed conflict: “The Turks will make an unavoidable strategic decision around 2020. Relying on a chaotic buffer zone to protect themselves from the Russians is a bet they will not make again. This time they will move north into the Caucasus, as deeply as they need to in order to guarantee their national security in that direction… The immediate periphery of Turkey is going to be unstable, to say the least. The United States will encourage Turkey to press north in the Caucasus and will want Turkish influence in Muslim areas of the Balkans.”
In Friedman’s view, the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia can be postponed but is inevitable. And when it finally occurs, the Tashnag nightmare scenario—of the Armenian market being flooded with Turkish goods, and Turkey taking over all industrial sectors, leading to Armenian economic serfdom and client state status—will also be unavoidable.
The difference is that like a therapist objectively and impassively listening to someone’s problems, Friedman comments but doesn’t care about Armenia’s interests. He simply notes that such an outcome will be deemed by the U.S. to be in America’s interest, before the country makes adequate progress in transitioning to more sustainable “green” energy policies.
By 2040, Friedman writes, an Armenian, Greek, and pro-West anti-Turkish movement will begin to coalesce as the U.S. and Britain no longer regard Turkey as a friendly ally but as the rival superpower against the U.S. alongside a rejuvenated militant Japan.
“Turkey will move decisively northward into the Caucasus as Russia crumbles. Part of this move will consist of military intervention, and part will occur in the way of political alliances,” he writes. “Turkey’s influence will be economic—the rest of the region will need to align itself with the new economic power. And by the mid-2040’s, the Turks will indeed be a major regional power. There will be conflicts. From guerilla resistance to local conventional war, all around the Turkish pivot. Turkey will wind up pushing against U.S. allies in southeastern Europe and will make Italy feel extremely insecure with its growing power.”
In Friedman’s view, such a build-up will eventually lead to a limited-World War conflict between the U.S. and Poland against Turkey and Japan for divided world hegemony around 2050, with any actual ground combat occurring primarily in the vicinity of the Balkans and the Polish border areas surrounding U.S. and Turkish military targets.
Naturally it remains to be seen what will occur on the world stage, but like Groopman’s How Doctors Think (Mariner, 2008), Friedman’s Next 100 Years is as best an educated guess as anyone in the geopolitical analysis field can give, pending all variables—and that’s something.
Though to my chagrin, no travel agency will take reservations to Armenia for my personal Nuevo-Lincoln Brigade 38th and 68th Birthday Party Artsakh Liberation Extravaganza this far in advance. I checked.